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Here Comes the Night

class=img_thumbleft>God, is there anything more depressing in professional sports than that one lone guy booing in the twelfth inning of a losing game? That one soul who's still trying to rouse the six people left in his section, maybe trying to rally himself for the long drive home, maybe a dedicated follower of primal scream therapy. By the time Joe Nathan walked Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta to load the bases in the twelfth, probably five thousand long-suffering (and now utterly sober) fans were left scratching the scruff on their chins and wondering why they were still glued to their seats. Yeah, the home team gets its at-bat, sure. But then Shin-Soo Choo, who'd gone 0-4 over the last four hours, squeaked a hit past Nathan's outstretched glove and drove in two more. What had been a barely reachable 5-3 contest became a 7-3 blowout. If a miracle was going to occur, it certainly wouldn't have many witnesses.

I don't know what got into both teams tonight. Look at the Indians, for Christ's sake. For the love of God, it seemed like they were primed to feast on Carlos Silva. Check out these pre-game numbers: the top four hitters in the Indians line-up had, in the past, made mincemeat of our pitcher of choice. Grady Sizemore was hitting .500 in 44 at-bats; Casey Blake .368 in 38; Travis Hafner .394 in 33; and Victor Martinez .500 in 26. Those are all numbers against Carlos Silva. It's his turn in the rotation, but I bet there were some butterflies in the stomachs of the local nine. That foursome had 8 homers and 70 hits in all those at-bats, combined. But after eleven innings, the Indians and their vaunted lineup had but three runs to show for these portents. Silva held his own until a pesky fifth inning, when he coughed up three runs when Blake and Hafner reached with a pair of singles and Martinez blasted a home run, which is often his want. But I'll take only three runs from our starter. If we could give him some runs back, that's one in the win column.

As on Sunday, one of our starters gave up just three runs that we couldn't beat. Torii was game, stretching a single into a double in the second inning, and then standing there and watching Cuddyer and Morneau pop up. In the third, poor Jason Bartlett whacked a nice double down the third base line, and then was doubled up on a soft liner to the shortstop--an utterly impossible, hard luck play in which Mr. Peralta stood on second and reached out and caught the liner for an automatic double play. Like life in the hall of mirrors, the fourth opened with two base hits and resulted in no runs. It seemed like we were going around and around, unable to escape this hell.

You could say that the Twins wouldn't give up, that they kept themselves in the game with their pitching, until finally they scratched out three to tie it up in the seventh. Torii lifted a home run after taking the utterly effective Jeremy Sowers (who counts Minneapolis as his favorite town on the road, and no wonder the way we play) to a full count. As if to give the Twins marketing department some highlights, Kubel and Bartlett were on with a pair of hits, and Alexi Casilla doubled to send them home and tie the game.

But after that the Indians allowed just one baserunner in the remaining five innings. Our late scoring rally, the one that tied it up in the seventh, gave the illusion that we could possibly win this thing. Up we came, bats ready, and then down we sat, stifled. Eventually, the twelfth inning arrived, the first four Indians scored, and that, as they say, was that. Only the utterly faithful, the cynical, self-hating baseball fan was left, and probably would be wondering the next day why, oh, why they waited until this evening came crashing down on them. Traffic? Sobering up? Probably they were raised that way. My family would just as soon drink lye than leave a game early. Tonight, I'm not sure which is worse.

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